Colleges and universities across the country are at a crossroads.
Financially, they’re faced with the challenge of staying relevant to the needs of their students and bringing value back to the college education. Colleges are also at a cultural crossroads. They are uniquely positioned to prepare students for the real world and forge them through challenging thought and inquiry. Colleges have the opportunity to expose young people to the wide world and the many viewpoints contained therein.
But oftentimes, colleges fall short in this responsibility to challenge the minds of young people. You’ve likely heard the term “safe spaces” in relation to colleges and universities. This term refers to a shift in higher education that prioritizes sensitivity and sheltering over challenging students’ thoughts and feelings.
How can your student live counter-culturally in this environment where they are expected to shelter themselves?
Accepting the Challenge
Raising a student to lead an extraordinary life isn’t easy. It’s a challenge in itself. And challenge is actually part of that process.
Students need to be challenged in addition to being supported and encouraged. The real world isn’t safe and it isn’t always easy. Preparing a student for the real world requires some level of challenge.
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Students who step up to the plate and tackle these challenges will be better equipped and prepared for the challenges of life when they come. On the other hand, students who try to shelter themselves from anything hard or uncomfortable will only delay their discomfort.
When your student accepts the challenge to do hard things and stretch themselves in a healthy way, they’re making active preparation for a life of impact.
No “Safe Spaces”
Despite what colleges and universities may say, there are no “safe spaces”. There is nowhere your student can go to escape all the hard stuff of life: whether that’s bad feelings, physical danger, or mental struggles.
The students who have relied on safe spaces at college are graduating and moving out into the wider world. And they are struggling with the lack of “safe spaces” because they’ve come to expect them. They assume that if they want to be safe from something they should be.
But that’s not the way the real world works. We still have to face hard things. And those who expect to do so and prepare for that are far better equipped to live in the real world than those who expect to easily escape the hard things.
Raising a Resilient Student
Your student is in a season of preparation. They are preparing for life in the “real world” and all the responsibilities they will have to manage in that world. It’s good to graciously introduce them to things that will challenge them in this season of preparation.
Your student’s season of preparation will yield growth in their life but it won’t be easy. And that’s a good thing.
Resilience is a core life skill to develop. Listen to Mrs. Elaine Bell share with the Be Unbound Podcast about her own life of resilience.
Jace Bower is the Marketing Coordinator for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.